No doubt you have heard the hype surrounding drinking lemon water for its health and weight loss benefits. Celebrities have touted drinking lemon water as a breakthrough in healthy living and the ‘lemon detox diet’ makes the rounds regularly.
Here we are going to explore the evidence on the benefits of drinking lemon water.
What is it?
Very simply, it is freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed in water for a refreshing drink, It can be made as a hot or cold drink and the ratio of lemon to water is a matter of personal preference. Some recipes include the rind of the lemon, mint leaves or other ingredients like pepper or ginger. Lemon water is commonly consumed first thing in the morning as it is claimed to boost metabolic health, immune system function, mood and energy levels.
Nutritional Information for Lemon Water
The nutritional information here refers to 250ml of water combined with the juice from half a medium sized lemon (source)
The breakdown per serve is:
- Total calories = 9
- Total sugar=less than 1 gram.
- Folate =1% of your recommended daily intake
- Vitamin C =25% of your recommended daily intake
- Potassium =1% of your recommended daily intake
So one whole serving of lemon water does not have a high nutrient density, it is a good low-calorie, low sugar beverage to replace sodas or other unhealthy drinks. For example if you replaced the lemon juice with half a juiced orange you would double the calories and the sugar (source)
One drink will boost your daily vitamin C intake as well.
Take away message – lemon juice is extremely high in vitamin C and low in sugar and calories. It gives a plain glass of water a lovely flavor boost to encourage you to drink more.
Lemons are High in Antioxidants
Lemons are a good source of a plant compound called Flavonoids which have antioxidant properties. These antioxidants appear to prevent cell damage from occurring. Flavonoids in citrus fruits have been linked with improved blood circulation, insulin stability and other improvements in metabolic health (1,2,3).
Lemon Juice Can Help Treat Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are a solid mineral build up that collects in the kidneys. Normally these stones are made up from calcium oxalate – a substance that can be treated with a compound called citrate. It works by preventing the calcium from binding together and creating the stones.
Lemon water is most effective when combined with potassium citrate – a supplementary form of citrate. However as a first line and preventative measure, consuming lemon water regularly is a great alternative (7,8).
Lemon Water is More Beneficial than Regular Water
Drinking plenty of water is known to have benefits for weight loss, mental health, digestive health and exercise performance. Lemon Water simply adds further vitamins and minerals to these wonderful hydrating benefits. In fact, as it is more flavorful than plain water, it can encourage you to drink more.
Common Health Claims About The Health Benefits of Lemon Water Detox Diet
There are a lot of health claims circulating about drinking lemon water, but many as of the writing of this article are not supported by any evidence.
1: The Fiber Helps with Weight Loss
While drinking more water encourages a healthy system and weight loss, lemon water has no extra benefit. Lemon water is the just the juice of a lemon added to the water and the fiber is contained in the fruit itself so you lose the fibrous content of the lemon and normally has less than 2 grams of fiber per serve any way (source).
2: Changes the pH of your Body
Although lemons are acidic they produce an ‘alkaline ash’ in your body, here is a study showing alkaline diet helps in the reduce of muscle wasting, as well as mitigating other chronic diseases such as hypertension and strokes as well as increase in cardiovascular health, memory and cognition. You can see more studies showing the benefits of the alkaline diet here.
3: Lemon Juice Fights Cancer
Lemons contain antioxidants which have been claimed to help prevent cancer and also contain vitamin C which strengthens your immune system.
4: Cleansing and detoxifying
There is no evidence to say that lemon juice cleanses or detoxifies they body outside of the normal process water undergoes in our bodies. Water is used to eliminate waste through urination and bowel movements.
If this helps you to drink more water then in that respect you could say it does help to cleanse and detox.
5: Increases your IQ
There is no evidence to suggest lemon water increases your IQ.
6: Natural Diuretic Effects
A normal side effect of drinking water is increased urination but lemon juice itself is not considered a diuretic.
Does Lemon Water Have Any Harmful Side Effects?
Lemon water is safe and healthy to drink but lemon juice is high is critic acid which can damage your tooth enamel and make you prone to cavities.
You can avoid this by simply rinsing your mouth with water afterwards and wait about an hour until you brush your teeth.
Should I drink lemon water hot or cold?
This has been hotly debated – there are claims that cold water burns extra calories while warm water is good for digestive health. Unfortunately there is very little scientific evidence to support either claim. It is good for you either hot or cold, so enjoy lemon water which ever way you feel like at the time.
It’s a tasty, low calorie and low sugar alternative to other beverages that has several health benefits – including increasing your daily intake of water. It has the added benefit of boosting your daily vitamin C intake as well.